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Sharks wrap up Pacific Division
Nabokov stops 38 shots in win
4/6/10 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks wrapped up the Pacific Division title on Tuesday night in Calgary with a nail biting 2-1 win. The Flames on the other hand, were essentially eliminated from the playoff picture with a lifeless performance before a sellout crowd at the Pengrowth Saddledome. Rob Blake and Jamie McGinn would provide the Sharks with all the offense they would need and Evgeni Nabokov would turn aside 38 shots to earn his 42nd win of the season.

The Flames are still alive mathematically, but they would need to run the table and the Colorado Avalanche would need to lose their remaining four games. With their backs against the wall, Calgary surprisingly generated little energy all night long.

The Sharks got the start they needed, then held on for a solid road win to guarantee themselves one of the top two seeds in the upcoming playoffs. San Jose holds a slim 2 point lead over Chicago, who also won on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks have a game in hand, and would win the tie breaker if they were able to catch San Jose .

With the focus on locking up the division before returning home to close out the season, the Sharks took a conservative approach to start the game. They allowed Calgary to put 12 shots on Nabokov in the opening period, but the majority of those came during a Douglas Murray hooking penalty.

San Jose used an Ian White holding penalty to bag the game’s first goal. The Shark’s special teams play has been marginal at best of late, but they used the White infraction to get on the board first, scoring at 10:15 of the period. Blake cranked a shot from the blueline, slipping his shot between Logan Couture and Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Couture was parked in front of the crease, distracting Kiprusoff.

McGinn extended the Sharks lead to 2-0 at 5:47 of the 2nd period, killing the momentum he Flames tried to seize out of the 1st intermission. The young forward took advantage of Mark Giordano and Cory Sarich’s complacency to a rebound off Kiprusoff that trickled out into the slot. Logan Couture started the sequence by putting a shot on net from the right side. McGinn bulled his way between the two Flame defenders and swept the loose puck into a wide open net for his 10th goal of the season.

Nabokov earned his paycheck over the final 40 minutes, by stopping 26 of 27 shots. He would rob Rene Bourque 3 minutes into the 3rd period with a deflection off a cannon shot from the left side on a 2-on-1 break. Bourque gave the Flames a glimmer of hope a minute later on a back-door deflection after Blake was sent off for a delay of game penalty. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester sent a pass through the slot from the right side, hitting Bourque who was parked on the left post.

The goal may have come too early for the Flames, who failed to capitalize on the momentum they built with the tally. The continued to try and out-chance the Sharks, rather than take it to the Sharks. Giordano killed some of that momentum when he slashed Devin Setoguchi’s stick out of his hands, drawing a two minute penalty. San Jose would fail to convert on the wpoer play, but it killed precious time off the clock.

Nabokov stood tall over the last 5 minutes of the contest, denying the Flames, even after they pulled Kiprusoff for the extra attacker.

An apparent icing by the Sharks with a minute remaining was denied when Setoguchi out-skated two Flames players to the puck. He would turn the puck over, allowing the Flames to bring the puck up ice one last time, but the play was an indication of the Flames lack of jump, even with their season on the line.

Game Notes:

Blake moved into 3rd place on the all time list for power play goals by a defenseman. Jed Ortmeyer got the evening off, to nurse an undisclosed injury.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 0 2
CGY 0 0 1 1
1st period - 1, SJ, Blake 7 (Clowe, Demers), 10:15, (pp).
2nd period - 2, SJ, McGinn 10 (Couture, Vlasic), 5:47.
3rd period - 3, CGY, Bourque 26 (Bouwmeester, Stajan), 4:20, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - White, CGY (holding), 8:17; Murray, SJ (hooking), 14:34.
2nd period - Wallin, SJ (hooking), 1:48; Mitchell, SJ (hooking), 17:53.
3rd period - Blake, SJ (delay of game – puck over glass), 3:16; Giordano, CGY (slashing), 9:37.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 39 38
CGY - Kiprusoff 26 24
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 12 10 4 26
CGY 12 12 15 39
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 2
CGY 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Rene Bourque
Mikka Kiprusoff
Attendence
19,289
Officials
Referees: Dwyer, Walkom. Linesmen: Cvik, Henderson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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